US on Track to Miss Syrian Refugee Resettlement Goal for 2016

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The US Department of State resettled 2,406 Syrian refugees last month and has resettled only about 50 percent of the 10,000 refugees it pledged to accept before the end of the fiscal year on September, the advocacy group Human Rights First said in a statement on Tuesday.

Turkish flag flies at the refugee camp for Syrian refugees in Islahiye, Gaziantep province, southeastern Turkey,Wednesday, March 16, 2016 - Sputnik International
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WASHINGTON (Sputnik) President Barack Obama pledged last year that the United States would accept at least 10,000 Syrian refugees by the end of fiscal year 2016.

"The Obama administration has made progress in addressing some of the backlogs and delays that have hampered its ability to resettle refugees, but with three months left in the fiscal year, it is still far from meeting its goal of resettling at least ten thousand Syrian refugees this fiscal year," Human Rights First’s Refugee Protection Program Director Eleanor Acer stated.

US officials have cited backlogs and staffing gaps as hindrances to resettlement, but the Obama administration has also faced resistance from Republican lawmakers over the security vetting process and possible impact of resettlement on US national security.

Human Rights First noted on Tuesday that the US Department of Homeland Security has increased its staffing levels and is conducting security interviews of Syrian refugees in the region.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson recently announced that 4,700 Syrian refugees are awaiting resettlement and an additional 7,900 are awaiting security reviews.

The ongoing war in Syria has displaced more than 11 million people, including 4.8 million who are in neighboring states such as Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.

At least 480,000 Syrians are in need of resettlement outside the region, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

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